Shhhhh don’t tell the Media, Chris Hipkins visits two Partnership Schools

Whaleoil has a scoop that you will not read anywhere else. I was contacted yesterday by two of the charter schools I visited to report the astonishing news that the Labour Party spokesperson for education Chris Hipkins, has finally visited them. Both Vanguard Military school and South Auckland Middle school were visited yesterday by Chris Hipkins.

Both schools have an open door policy to all politicians and a number have accepted their invitation.Chris Hipkins’ office originally made contact with Vanguard Military School on the 26th of April to try and visit on the 27th with just 24 hours notice.  This was in the second week of the school holidays and would have meant no students and no staff at the school.  This offer was declined and his staff was asked to come back to the school with a more suitable date. When Mr Hipkins arrived at Vanguard he was on his own with no aides and no media.

Until yesterday Mr Hipkins was in the astonishing position of having never visited a partnership school despite consistently criticising them for years. I wonder if he told the students he met that his party intend to shut their schools down or force them to become State schools?Perhaps that harsh fact is the reason why he wanted to fly under the radar and the media were not invited?

Prior to actually setting foot in a charter school this is what Chris Hipkins has been saying about charter schools.

April 2016

“Charter schools don’t have a place in the current system. This Bill will establish a transition period for the schools to apply for different status in the system and for families to make different arrangements if needed.

“It’s time to put education first and end this experiment,” says Chris Hipkins.

April 2016

Hipkins said it’s the system that’s broken, not necessarily the people working within it.

“Some of them I think are incredibly well intentioned, and have some good ideas but, I think there’s plenty of opportunity to embrace those and accommodate them within the public school system”.


August 2014

Hipkins: But I do agree with one  point that Hekia just made, which is  it’s not either or. Actually,  smaller class sizes does lead to  better quality teaching. Every  parent knows that the more  one-on-one time their child has with  the teacher, the better the quality  of the learning experience is going  to be. So smaller class sizes  contribute to a number of things  that are really effective. So class  sizes themselves shouldn’t be  isolated out as being a silver  bullet, but they contribute to a  number of other things that will  help to improve student achievement.

But, Chris, you’re going to shut them down? You’re gonna shut down charter schools?

Hipkins: Look, we don’t need the  model of charter schools. They don’t  have employ regi—

So you’ll shut them down?

Hipkins: Yes, absolutely.

So where do these kids go?  Where do these kids go? Because we  know at Vanguard school, they’ve got  discipline issues, and they go there because it has military-style discipline. Where do they go under Labour?

Hipkins: We’ve said we will look at  that on a case-by-case basis. Some  of the people—

Where would the—? But where  would the kids go?

Hipkins: Well, I’m about to tell  you. Just hold your breath for a  second. Some of the people wanting to establish charter schools are actually trying to fill a genuine  gap in the education system, and  we’ll work with them to ensure they  can do that within the existing  state school framework, because  there are options for them within  the existing state school framework. But the charter school  legislation allows school to make a  profit, be set up as profit—

Parata: That’s untrue.

So some charter schools could become state schools?

Hipkins: It’s quite possible that  they could be integrated into the  system or they could work within the  existing state school framework.

I hope that now Chris Hipkins has actually visited two highly successful examples of Charter schools he will backtrack on his position even further. First he said that Labour would “absolutely” shut them down. Then he wavered when asked what would happen to the students and said that,” It’s quite possible that  they could be integrated into the  system or they could work within the  existing state school framework.” Now after seeing for himself that the secret of their success is the freedom they have to do things differently, I hope he will back track even further.

It would make sense for him to continue to backtrack because the Labour Party’s stance on the issue is not popular with their voter base.

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